The mark of a shepherd

Though his hand shake was firm and his smile was warm, I could see that it was given through tear blurred eyes. He seemed to be in a bit of a daze and I'm not sure how much he even processed. That is quite understandable given the difficulty and enormity of what he was about to do.


As the service began though, I noted a new strength and resolve descend upon him. He led the opening hymn staunchly. He directed the service smoothly. He delivered the message and challenge soundly. It was very apparent that this man was operating under a power entirely not his own this day. In short, the funeral, though it marked a tragic loss, was yet a blessing to behold in many ways. The deceased young man's testimony was powerful and no doubt offered great hope and comfort to those who grieved his loss, but acknowledged his eternal gain. All of these were the signs of that minister's faithfulness and ability as a good shepherd. However, it was later, at the grave side committal that I was struck with the vision of what a shepherd really is.

As was the case in the memorial service, I noted the boldness and strength with which he spoke the words of comfort and hope. Yet it was the simple action that followed that revealed the true manner of love and care that marks the shepherd and his love for his flock.

A light drizzle had begun to descend on the gathering, and as the bereaved mother and father made their way through the people, I saw the minister holding an umbrella over their heads. As they walked he remained completely in stride with them. At that moment, it seemed to me that he more resembled a body guard than a pastor. But that was what so greatly impressed me. He was there for them. There was a complete absence of himself. He held the umbrella over them, without thought for his own condition. There was a resolve and purpose upon his face. He was guarding them in their hour of greatest need. He would not rest until he saw these lambs safely escorted from the painful setting, perhaps where he could attempt to console them and offer a word of comfort.

In that moment, more than any other, I saw what it means to be a shepherd. How thankful we must be to God for raising up men such as this, who will give their all for their sheep. What a great challenge to those of us called to be that. May we be found as faithful and humble when we are needed.